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There Are 505 Active Ski Areas in America – Here’s a Complete List
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How many active ski areas are there in America?
It’s a tougher question to answer than you’d think. The first 425 or so are easy: destinations, longstanding community bumps, substantial operations that run a fleet of chairlifts and belong to a multi-mountain ski pass.
But things get tricky after you’ve itemized Homewood and Jackson Hole and Boyne Mountain and Dartmouth Skiway. Those are easy to find, easy to verify. But what about Bellows Falls, Vermont, a 200-vertical-foot town bump with one run and one ropetow that opens every so often on natural snow – is that an active ski area? What about Big Creek, Ohio, a members-only 164-footer outside of Cleveland? Or the Liberty Snowflex Center in Virginia, where you can ski year-round on a hill carpeted with polymer composite? Or Moose Mountain, Alaska, which hosts an expansive traditional trail network roaring 1,300 vertical feet, but no lifts other than a bus that hauls skiers in bunches to the summit and a base-area handle tow? Or Gebbie’s Farm, property of the Gebbie family of Greensboro, Vermont, who occasionally run “one or two ropetows with their tractors” for their “friends and family when natural snow allows,” according to New England Ski History.
I’ve been fretting over a complete ski areas list for years. I consider it a foundational document for The Storm. This is the sort of thing that once existed in reference books, such as The White Book of Ski Areas, tomes assembled by researchers or journalists, carefully cultivated and updated annually. The internet is stuffed with partial lists, but none is complete, and most are languishing. The closest thing to a complete list is Lift Blog’s lift database, which is manically updated, but does not include ropetows or carpets – and therefore excludes resorts that run only those sorts of lift. The National Ski Areas Association maintains a list, but they only publish the numbers in aggregate. They won’t share the actual list (I’ve asked many times).
So I made my own list. It was about as fun as shoving my hand into a running garbage disposal. But I’m done, or at least until someone reminds me of one thing or another that I forgot or got wrong, which will likely happen within five minutes of distributing this email. But at least now I have a list, which can serve as an editable foundation that I can refresh in real time.
So here’s what I came up with, and how I did it (the list is at the bottom of this article. You can also just click the button below):
Defining a “ski area”
The first thing I had to do was to figure out what I wanted to count as a ski area. Since The Storm’s focus is lift-served ski areas that a member of the general public might reasonably gain access to, I settled on the following criteria: to be included on this list, a ski area must:
Have a lift at least partway up the mountain. So Challenge Mountain, Michigan, a private bump for skiers with disabilities, counts - even though the majority of the uphill transit is via snowmobile or ATV - since a small handletow serves a couple lower mountain trails. But Voodoo Mountain, Michigan, the Cat-served adjunct to nearby lift-served Mount Bohemia, does not. There are not that many Cat-served outfits in America, but I don’t really cover them (perhaps a product test would alter that equation, hint-hint), so I left them off.
Offer skiing on snow. It doesn’t have to be natural snow. So Big Snow, the New Jersey refrigerator that’s open 365 days per year, counts. Liberty Snowflex does not. It’s a cool idea, and I’m sure it’s a riot, but it’s not snow skiing.
Have been open for at least one day during the 2022-23 ski season, or be actively and/or convincingly preparing to open for the 2023-24 season. So Cloudmont, Alabama, which operated for a few days last December, counts. So does Frost Fire, North Dakota, which sat out last season to revamp its snowmaking system, but spent $2.5 million on the project with SMI and, based on conversations with the general manager, seems as certain to re-open for winter as any small Midwest ski area. Sandia Peak, New Mexico, however, while an intact ski area with an active Forest Service lease, is not included, as the owners have declined to spin the lifts for the past two winters (the tram, a tourist attraction, remains active).
Not be completely private: By “private,” I mean, “some dude put a ropetow in his backyard for his own personal use.” I do include private ski areas, such as Holimont in New York or Yellowstone Club in Montana, on this list, but both offer a means to join, even if those means are beyond the reach of the average human’s checkbook. I even include institution-owned joints such as Caribou High School’s ropetow bump in Maine, since any family willing to move to the frozen tip-top of America could access it. But I did not include any of the numerous homemade ski areas reserved for the use of the owner’s friends and family, such as Cosmic Hill, Vermont or Polar Peak, New York. “Having to pay an initiation fee and annual dues” is a much simpler membership criteria to digest than “convince The Wagners to invite me to a potluck.”
What about ski areas that are split in two or more pieces?
For reasons of history, marketing, or administrative convenience, a handful of ownership groups have combined distinct but nearby ski areas into a single resort. While I somewhat understand this impulse, it is massively confusing to skiers, who may not understand where to go, how to navigate among the various hills, or even that there is more to the resort than what’s in front of them.
Summit at Snoqualmie, Washington, for example, is a Voltron formed from the husks of what were once four separate ski areas: Snoqualmie Summit, Ski Acres, Milwaukee Ski Bowl/Hyak, and Alpental. Today, the first three – renamed Summit West, Central, and East, respectively – are connected via ski trails. But Alpental sits across Interstate 90, a five-minute drive from Summit West. Is Summit at Snoqualmie really a single ski area? Or two? Or four? I applied the following criteria to determine how to itemize these:
Is there a lift connecting them? As of last December, the spectacularly expensive Base-to-Base Gondola unites the ski areas formerly known as Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows into one Euro-style ski circus called “Palisades Tahoe.” So even though one-and-a-quarter miles of wilderness separates them, this is one ski area. Sorry Tahoe Hardcore, I know you don’t think of them that way. Hell, as I noted in the article accompanying my podcast conversation with Palisades Tahoe COO Dee Byrne in April, not even management really considers them a single entity. But they are connected, and really seamlessly, in the manner that U.S. American skiers are accustomed to moving between sections of a ski area: via aerial lift.
If there is no lift, can a skier easily walk between the two ski areas? The Winslow and Holt’s Ledge sides of Dartmouth Skiway, New Hampshire are bisected by Grafton Turnpike Road. Despite that beefy name, this is not a busy thruway. The distance from the baselodge to the Holt’s Ledge double chair is 260 feet, much of which is snow-covered – and therefore skiable – in the winter. There is no shuttle. Skiers simply walk across the street with their skis over their shoulders. Snowshoe, West Virginia has a similar setup, with a 438-foot walk between the Powder Monkey lift, serving Snowshoe proper, and the Western Express lift, serving a separate terrain pod across Snowshoe Drive known as Western Territory. Snowshoe, however, has a third area with five lifts called Silver Creek, which sits a 2.5-mile drive north. While I suppose you could walk between them, doing so would be an extremely stupid idea, especially in ski boots. So I count Snowshoe as two separate ski areas. To meet Alterra halfway on this, I’ve called them: “Snowshoe: Snowshoe & Western Territory” and “Snowshoe: Silver Creek,” so that it’s clear these sit under one administrative umbrella, even if they are in fact distinct ski areas in a geographic sense.
To summarize: shuttle = separate ski areas; lift, trail, or short walk = one ski area. There are only a handful of ski areas in America that required application of this calculus. Here’s how they sorted out:
Big Bear, California: Snow Summit + Bear Mountain + Snow Valley, no ski or lift connection = 3 ski areas
Mountain High, California: Mountain High East + Mountain High West (North has not operated for skiing since 2017), no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Sun Valley, Idaho: Bald Mountain + Dollar Mountain, no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Snowriver, Michigan: Black River Basin (formerly Blackjack) + Jackson Creek Summit (formerly Indianhead), no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Summit at Snoqualmie: Summit East, Central, and West (interconnected by trails) + Alpental, no ski or lift connection to Summit areas = 2 ski areas
Snowshoe: Snowshoe and Western Territory + Silver Creek, no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Timberline Lodge, Oregon: Timberline + Summit, new ski connection down = 1 ski area
Jack Frost-Big Boulder, Pennsylvania: Jack Frost + Big Boulder, no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Boston Mills-Brandywine, Ohio: Boston Mills + Brandywine, no ski or lift connection = 2 ski areas
Palisades Tahoe, California: Alpine Meadows + Olympic/Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley), gondola connection = 1 ski area
Sugarbush, Vermont: Lincoln Peak (traditional Sugarbush) + Mt. Ellen (formerly a separate ski area), connected via Slide Brook Express quad = 1 ski area
Dartmouth Skiway, New Hampshire: Holt’s Ledge side + Winslow side, short walk between them = 1 ski area
There may be a few others, but I applied the same basic equation to all of them.
I thought you were going to start covering Canada, Brah?
Yes, I am. I will make a Canada Pass Tracker, and ski area inventory, and all that. But I need to get U.S. America locked down before I venture into the wild North, where all sorts of complications exist. British Columbia and Alberta are relatively straightforward, but Ontario is scattered with ski clubs of all sizes. And inventorying Quebec, with its approximately 45,000 ski areas – 90 percent of which are called “Mont [French word unpronounceable to a dumb U.S. American like me]” may cost me my soul.
What about the fact that ski areas make up statistics?
I’m not ready to fight that battle, Brah. For the moment, I’m taking their word for it. The only modifications I made were to reduce vertical drops or skiable acreage to lift-served vert/acreage whenever it was straightforward to do so. Powder Mountain, Utah, for example, claims to have like 90 million acres of terrain. But only 3,000 or so is accessible from a lift, and that number appears on the resort’s website, and so that’s what they get credit for here.
In circumstances in which a ski area’s website does not offer basic stats, I’ve sourced them from various websites, mostly skicentral.com, skibum.net, or onthesnow.com. I’d guess that around one percent of these statistics are scientifically accurate. But they’re close enough, and since we’re validating the existence of ski areas and not sending a satellite-guided missile to Alien Moonbase 7, these “-ish” measurements will do. For now.
A note on ownership
I’ve called out the 18 entities that own two or more ski areas in the “owner” column. Everyone else is classified as “independent,” even if it’s clear who the owners are. Expect that category to evolve over time as I begin to add individual owners.
A note on pass affiliations
I’ve included ski area membership in seven major pass affiliations. Click through to see complete inventories of each pass roster: Epic, Ikon, Indy, Mountain Collective, Power Pass, Powder Alliance, and Freedom Pass.
A note on ski area comebacks
I’ve chosen to include two ski areas on this list that did not operate last year, but show strong momentum toward re-opening this year: Frost Fire, North Dakota and Deer Mountain, South Dakota. I’ve also included Hoedown Hill, an all-new beginner-oriented ski hill in Colorado, as the demonstrable investment there has been substantial, and I believe they’ll open without issue.
I did leave a couple potential comeback stories off the list. while I have confidence in the attempted re-openings of Hickory, New York and Cuchara, Colorado, both are on at least their second year of concerted comeback efforts after long closures, and I don’t want to jinx them by dropping them onto my active list.
As for all the rest, here’s a very haphazard, very partial list of U.S. ski areas that are in some stage of abandonment, comeback, or uncertainty; I call them “ski areas in limbo.” I have big hopes for some of these, like Norway Mountain, Michigan and Ski Denton, Pennsylvania, both of which have new owners or operators that intend to re-open the centers within a year or two. Some, like Mt. Waterman, still pretend they are active businesses, even if they haven’t spun the lifts in years. A few, like Blandford in Massachusetts and Val Bialis in New York, closed recently and are still fully intact. Others, like Bluebird Backcountry in Colorado, closed so recently that I can’t call them completely dead just yet.
I’m certain this is nowhere near a complete list. If you have additions, or further information on any of the ski areas listed here, please let me know.
Doesn’t the Pass Master 5000 or whatever you call it already act as a complete ski areas list?
Sort of. But the Pass Tracker 5001 does not include any sort of stats, which is important context if you’re weighing the cost of a season pass. Also, the Pass Tracker is a Google Doc, which makes it hard to convert into an image that I can embed in an email.
Wait, so how did you make this?
I created a chart on a Word doc, converted that into a pdf, then opened it as 13 individual files in Photoshop and re-stapled them together. Then I exported the final file as a JPG.
Is that seriously what you’re doing?
Are you an idiot?
I mean, sort of.
Why don’t you just [insert obvious thing that every internet user on Earth except for me knows about]
I have a history of doing things in the most difficult way possible. While this frustrates me, I’m apparently incapable of altering my behavior.
OK but can you just [do obvious thing that I should have done in the first place]?
Maybe. What I need to do next is to integrate this information with the Pass Tracker 5001, find some sort of database tool to house everything, and build a Google Map that shows each ski area and all associated data in a flyout.
A 6-year-old could do all that in like 45 minutes
I never said I was Albert Einstein.
Bro you are so tedious, can we just see the stupid list already?
Soon. First, I want to break out some totals:
By the criteria outlined above, America is host to 505 active ski areas.
102 run only surface lifts
403 have at least one chairlift
45 are private or semi-private, meaning that there is some membership, enrollment, residency, or lodging requirement to access them
Here’s a state-by-state summary chart:
And here are some fun facts:
56 are [something] Mountain (though this is probably an undercount, since I have a habit of not respecting the “Mountain” on certain obvious flagship brands, such as Vail Mountain, which I almost always just call “Vail”): Bear Mountain and June Mountain, California; Aspen Mountain, Copper Mountain, Echo Mountain, Kendall Mountain, and Vail Mountain, Colorado; Mohawk Mountain, Connecticut; Bald Mountain (Independent), Blizzard Mountain, Magic Mountain, Silver Mountain, Soldier Mountain, Dollar Mountain (Sun Valley), and Bald Mountain (also Sun Valley), Idaho; Black Mountain of Maine, Hermon Mountain, Pleasant Mountain, and Spruce Mountain, Maine; Adventure Mountain, Boyne Mountain, Challenge Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Marquette Mountain, Missaukee Mountain, Pine Mountain, and Tower Mountain, Michigan; Detroit Mountain, Lutsen Mountains, Spirit Mountain, and Wild Mountain, Minnesota; Maverick Mountain, Montana; Black Mountain, New Hampshire; Holiday Mountain, Oak Mountain, Royal Mountain, Song Mountain, and West Mountain, New York; Appalachian Mountain, Beech Mountain, and Sugar Mountain, North Carolina; Blue Mountain, Elk Mountain, Mystic Mountain, Shawnee Mountain, and Spring Mountain, Pennsylvania; Deer Mountain, South Dakota; Ober Mountain, Tennessee; Beaver Mountain and Powder Mountain, Utah; Magic Mountain, Vermont; Badger Mountain, Crystal Mountain, and Sitzmark Ski Mountain, Washington; Christie Mountain, Nordic Mountain, and Whitecap Mountains, Wisconsin.
33 ski areas are Mount [something]; oddly, very few of them are located on actual mountains: Mount Lemmon, Arizona; Mount Baldy and Mount Shasta Ski Park, California; Mount Crescent, Iowa; Mount Greylock Ski Club, Massachusetts; Mount Rose, Nevada; Mount Baker and Mount Spokane, Washington; Mount Eyak, Alaska; Mount Southington, Connecticut; Mount Abram and Mount Jefferson, Maine; Mount Bohemia, Mount Brighton, Mount Holiday, Mount Holly, Mount McSauba, and Mount Zion, Michigan; Mount Itasca, Mount Kato, and Mount Ski Gull, Minnesota; Mount Eustis and Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire; Mount Peter and Mount Pisgah, New York; Mount Ashland, Mount Bachelor, Mount Hood Meadows, and Mount Hood Skibowl, Oregon; Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania; Mount Snow, Vermont; and Mount Ashwabay and Mount LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
25 ski areas are [something] Hill or Hills: Birch Hill, Alaska; Cranor Hill, Hoedown Hill, Howelsen Hill, and Lee’s Ski Hill, Colorado; Chipmunk Hill and Little Ski Hill, Idaho; Snow Park at Alpine Hills, Illinois; Powderhouse Hill, Maine; Blue Hills, Massachusetts; Hanson Hills and Hickory Hills, Michigan; Andes Tower Hills, Buck Hill, and Hyland Hills, Minnesota; Red Hill and Storrs Hill, New Hampshire; Dry Hill and Dynamite Hill, New York; Huff Hills and Thrill Hills, North Dakota; Harrington Hill, Vermont; Leavenworth Ski Hill, Washington; and Fox Hill and Sunset Hill, Wisconsin.
23 ski areas are “Valleys”: Arctic Valley, Alaska; Bear Valley and Snow Valley, California; Sun Valley, Idaho; Lost Valley, Maine; Nashoba Valley, Massachusetts; Alpine Valley, Big Valley, and Swiss Valley, Michigan; Hidden Valley, Missouri; Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania; Waterville Valley, New Hampshire; Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico; Holiday Valley and Woods Valley, New York; Sapphire Valley, North Carolina; Deer Valley and Nordic Valley, Utah; Bolton Valley, Vermont; Echo Valley, Washington; Canaan Valley, West Virginia; Alpine Valley, Ohio; and Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
22 ski areas have “Snow” in their names: Arizona Snowbowl, Arizona; Snow Summit and Snow Valley, California; Snowmass, Colorado; Snowhaven, Idaho; Snow Park at Alpine Hills and Snowstar, Illinois; Camden Snow Bowl, Maine, Snow Snake and Snowriver, Michigan; Snow Creek, Missouri; Montana Snowbowl, Montana; Elko Snowbowl, Nevada; Snow Ridge, New York; Snow Trails, Ohio; Snowbasin and Snowbird, Utah; Mount Snow, Vermont; Snowshoe, West Virginia; The Rock Snowpark, Wisconsin; and Snow King and Snowy Range, Wyoming. That’s 4 snowbowls or snow bowls, if you care. Brah I stopped caring at “criteria.” I get it Brah. But trust me, this is fun.
14 ski areas have “Peak” in their name: China Peak, California; Paoli Peaks, Indiana; Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts; Caberfae Peaks, Michigan; Diamond Peak, Nevada; Pats Peak, New Hampshire; Greek Peak, New York; Peek’N Peak, New York; Terry Peak, South Dakota; Wasatch Peaks Ranch and Cherry Peak, Utah; Jay Peak, Vermont; Granite Peak and Keyes Peak, Wisconsin.
13 ski areas are [something] Ridge: Dodge Ridge, California; Powder Ridge Connecticut; Otis Ridge, Massachusetts; Timber Ridge, Michigan; Giants Ridge and Powder Ridge, Minnesota; Maple Ski Ridge, Snow Ridge, and Thunder Ridge, New York; Ferguson Ridge, Oregon; Hurricane Ridge and Mission Ridge, Washington; and Whitetail Ridge, Wisconsin.
13 ski areas are [something] Creek: Beaver Creek and Wolf Creek, Colorado; Pebble Creek, Idaho; Shanty Creek and Jackson Creek Summit (at Snowriver), Michigan; Elm Creek, Minnesota; Snow Creek, Missouri; Mountain Creek, New Jersey; Big Creek, Ohio; Bear Creek and Saw Creek, Pennsylvania; Silver Creek, West Virginia; and Pine Creek, Wyoming
12 ski areas are [something] Park: Sunrise Park, Arizona; Mount Shasta Ski Park, California; Winter Park, Colorado; Snow Park at Alpine Hills, Illinois; Emery Park, New York; Bottineau Winter Park, North Dakota; Boyce Park, Pennsylvania; Utah Olympic Park, Utah; 77 Winter Sports Park, Vermont; Standing Rocks Park, The Rock Snowpark, and Winter Park, Wisconsin.
9 ski areas have “Bear” in their name: Bear Mountain, California; Bear Valley, California; Bear Paw, Montana; Bear Canyon, Montana; Beartown, New York; Bear Creek, Pennsylvania; Ski Big Bear, Pennsylvania; and Beartooth Basin, Wyoming.
9 ski areas include a possessive noun in their name, though not all punctuate it correctly: Smugglers’ Notch and Cochran’s Ski Area, Vermont; Nub’s Nob, Michigan; Pats Peak and Storrs Hill, New Hampshire; Lee’s Ski Hill, Colorado; Giants Ridge, Minnesota; Stevens Pass, Washington; and Devil’s Head, Wisconsin.
8 have the word “winter” in their name: Winter Park, Colorado; Porkies Winter Sports Complex, Michigan; National Winter Activity Center, New Jersey; Bottineau Winter Park, North Dakota; 77 Winter Sports Park, Vermont; Wintergreen, Virginia; Winterplace, West Virginia; and Winter Park, Wisconsin.
7 ski areas are named [something] Pass: Badger Pass and Cedar Pass, California; Lookout Pass, Idaho/Montana; Teton Pass, Montana; Willamette Pass, Oregon; Stevens Pass and White Pass, Washington.
7 ski areas are named [something] Basin: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado; Bogus Basin, Idaho; Black River Basin (at Snowriver), Michigan; Snowbasin, Utah; Tyrol Basin, Wisconsin; and Beartooth Basin and Hogadon Basin, Wyoming.
6 ski areas are [something] Ranch: Donner Ski Ranch, California; Granby Ranch, Colorado; Double H Ranch, Ridin’ Hy Ranch, and Rocking Horse Ranch, New York; and Wasatch Peaks Ranch, Utah.
4 ski areas straddle state lines: Catamount across Massachusetts and New York; Lookout Pass and Lost Trail across Idaho and Montana; and Heavenly across California and Nevada. I gave each to the state that is most often associated with the ski area: Massachusetts, Idaho, Montana, and California, respectively.
o 2 Magic Mountains, one in Idaho and one in Vermont
o 2 Hidden Valleys, one in Missouri and one in Pennsylvania – Vail owns them both
o 3 Alpine Valleys, one each in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio – Wisconsin Resorts owns the two in Wisconsin and Michigan, while Vail owns the one in Ohio. Yes, I badly want the same company to own all three.
And here is the actual chart (now tell me how I f-ed it up) – you can always view the updated version here:
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